I Am Crying All Inside and Other Stories, page 1
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I Am Crying All Inside
And Other Stories
The Complete Short Fiction of Clifford D. Simak, Volume One
Clifford D. Simak: Grand Master Indeed!
I Had No Head and My Eyes Were Floating Way Up in the Air
Madness from Mars
I Am Crying All Inside
The Call from Beyond
All the Traps of Earth
About the Author
About the Editor
Clifford D. Simak: Grand Master Indeed!
“Music that had the whisper of rockets and the quietness of the void and the somber arches of eternal night.”
—Clifford D. Simak in “The Call from Beyond”
You are holding, either in your hands or in your circuits, the first volume of a projected series of fourteen collections that will, in the end, encompass every piece of professionally published short fiction known to the author’s estate to have been written by one of the giants of science fiction, Clifford D. Simak. In addition, you will find here a Simak story that has never before been published: a piece of fiction, written for Harlan Ellison, that was intended for inclusion in the third volume of Ellison’s three-part Dangerous Visions anthology, which was to have been entitled The Last Dangerous Visions™. Alas, that third volume has never been published. But the Simak Estate, and this editor personally, offer thanks to Mr. Ellison for his generosity in releasing that story to allow for its inclusion in this volume.
When the Science Fiction Writers of America, in 1977, named Clifford Donald Simak the third person to receive its Grand Master award, he had been writing science fiction for well over four decades—and while the award certainly reflected the esteem in which the honoree was held by his fellow writers, it also reflected their respect for, and appreciation of, the place his writings occupied in the history and development of science fiction.
It’s not known exactly when Cliff Simak began writing science fiction. Born in 1904, he spent his youth in deeply rural southwestern Wisconsin, where he read stories by such writers as Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and H. G. Wells—but it was not until 1927 (just about the time he moved to Madison, Wisconsin, in order to take some journalism courses) that he chanced upon a copy of Amazing Stories. Perhaps it was simply that being in the city, rather than on farms or in small towns, put him in a place where such magazines were available to be discovered; but at any rate, he became a regular reader of science fiction magazines, and soon thereafter he himself began writing—and in the end, the period between his first and last fiction publications would span about fifty-five years.
In 1929 Cliff, newly married, left college to take advantage of an opportunity to work in journalism. With his new bride, Kay, he moved to Michigan to work on the Iron River Reporter. He quickly moved up to having his own column, (entitled “Driftwood”), and within a few years, he was the paper’s editor.
It’s hard to know just when Cliff started writing fiction. Although he kept a series of journals in which he recorded some of his submissions and sales (and occasionally other events, such as the purchase of a supply of firewood), he was sporadic at best in his data entry, and it’s probable that some of those journals, like some of his stories, did not survive a lifestyle that was, for a long period, extraordinarily itinerant. A journal entry shows that he had already written and submitted at least one story in 1930, and during the following year, he sold at least six stories.
Most Simak fans have heard that Cliff’s first sale was a story called “The Cubes of Ganymede,” which was apparently accepted by Amazing Stories and held for several years before being returned with a note indicating that it no longer met the magazine’s needs. Cliff, who by then had sold a number of other stories, apparently did not attempt to resubmit “Cubes” anywhere else, and at some unknown time thereafter it vanished from the author’s files. (Cliff would later say that “Cubes” was “fairly bad.”)
But what most Simak fans do not realize is that he wrote an even earlier tale, one that eventually did reach publication. Cliff’s journals show that he actually wrote “Mutiny on Mercury” before writing either “The Cubes of Ganymede” or “The World of the Red Sun.” “Mutiny” would be Cliff’s first known submission, but because it was initially rejected and “Cubes” was held up, “Red Sun” became his first fiction publication. (“Mutiny” would sell a short time later.)
Of particular interest is the fact that “Red Sun,” Cliff’s very first published work of fiction, was listed on the cover of the issue of Wonder Stories in which it appeared. And as with the other authors featured in the issue, there was a line drawing of Simak, likely done by the legendary Frank R. Paul, as well as a brief introduction to the young author, which may have been written by the magazine’s editor in chief, the even more legendary Hugo Gernsback. One can only speculate on how exciting this must have been for a beginning author.
Over the next two decades, Clifford D. Simak would continue writing science fiction at short length but would also try his hand at other genres, including weird fantasy, Westerns, war stories, mysteries—and there were a few stories that we cannot now characterize, since they have vanished, leaving us with only their names to go by. He wrote some nonfiction, too, including “outdoor” sorts of stories such as “In the Wisconsin Bush”—but none of these, so far as we know, were published, and none survive.
Although Cliff seems to have begun his fiction career in science fiction—no surprise, considering his early interest in the field—he nonetheless had a Western rejected in 1933. Westerns were popular in the early part of the twentieth century, and it’s likely that Cliff, having grown up in a very rural area, was exposed to them early and often. And so it was that while he continued to write science fiction (including the beginning stories of the City cycle) before and during World War II, he also began to sell Westerns and war stories. It is worth noting that, true to his inclinations to avoid the cliché, none of Cliff’s fourteen published Westerns were of the stereotypical cowboy-and-Indian sort. But with the exception of one Western, likely written earlier, all of his fiction published after 1949 would be in the science fiction and fantasy field.
Also in the fifties, Cliff began moving into the writing of novels (his only prior novel, Cosmic Engineers, had been written specifically for magazine serialization at the request of John W. Campbell Jr.), but he would always keep his hand in the short-story field. And it was during this period that he began to win awards for his fiction—awards that had not even existed in his first two decades in writing.
In 1953 Cliff was awarded the International Fantasy Award for his book City, which was not actually a novel but a compilation of a series of related stories, with interstitial connecting materials. When the Hugo Award was created, he began winning some of those (for “The Big Front Yard” in 1959, Way Station in 1964, and “The Grotto of the Dancing Deer” in 1981)—and when the Nebulas were invented, he won one of those (for “Grotto” in 1981 again). His novel A Heritage of Stars won the Jupiter Award for Best Novel in 1978; and just before his death, he was one of the three inaugural winners of the Horror Writers’ Association’s Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement.
When Clifford D. Simak won that last Hugo and that Nebula (for “Grotto of the Dancing Deer”), he had be
One result of all this is that Clifford D. Simak became, and will likely remain, the only person ever to have won a Hugo, a Nebula, and an International Fantasy Award. Probably this is a somewhat unfair observation, since the International Fantasy Award, based in England, lasted less than ten years before becoming defunct, but in its day it developed an unmatched record of recognizing future classic fiction in the fields of fantasy and science fiction: Stewart’s Earth Abides, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Sturgeon’s More Than Human, Collier’s Fancies and Goodnights, and Pangborn’s A Mirror for Observers, for example.
But if a science fiction writer’s career is to be measured by his or her list of awards, it should be kept in mind that Cliff Simak had been a published writer for nearly two decades before any of those awards was created—and who is to say how many Hugos or Nebulas he might have won if any of them had been in existence when he was writing such stories as “Tools,” “Huddling Place,” “Desertion,” or “Earth for Inspiration.”
David W. Wixon
This story originally appeared in the February 1959 issue of Galaxy Magazine, but it was an effort to get it there. A note in Cliff’s journal says that he “finished work on ‘Installment Plan’ and [was] greatly dissatisfied”—but he sent it to the magazine’s editor, Horace Gold, anyway. Gold sent it back for revisions, but he also suggested that Cliff make a series of it and pledged himself to buy the series. Cliff did revise the story, and then started plotting a second “robot team” story—at which point Gold returned “Installment Plan” for more revisions, which Cliff provided within a week. But Cliff’s notes give no hint that he ever again thought of returning to the second tale.
I like this story quite a lot, and it puzzles me that Cliff apparently did not … but then, he was not one to indulge in sequels.
The mishap came at dusk, as the last floater was settling down above the cargo dump, the eight small motors flickering bluely in the twilight.
One instant it was floating level, a thousand feet above the ground, descending gently, with its cargo stacked upon it and the riding robots perched atop the cargo. The next instant it tilted as first one motor failed and then a second one. The load of cargo spilled and the riding robots with it. The floater, unbalanced, became a screaming wheel, spinning crazily, that whipped in a tightening, raging spiral down upon the base.
Steve Sheridan tumbled from the pile of crates stacked outside his tent. A hundred yards away, the cargo hit with a thundering crash that could be heard and felt above the screaming of the floater. The crates and boxes came apart and the crushed and twisted merchandise spread into a broken mound.
Sheridan dived for the open tent flaps and, as he did, the floater hit, slicing into the radio shack, which had been set up less than an hour before. It tore a massive hole into the ground, half burying itself, throwing up a barrage of sand and gravel that bulleted across the area, drumming like a storm of sleet against the tent.
A pebble grazed Sheridan’s forehead and he felt the blast of sand against his cheek. Then he was inside the tent and scrambling for the transmog chest that stood beside the desk.
“Hezekiah!” he bawled. “Hezekiah, where are you!”
He fumbled his ring of keys and found the right one and got it in the lock. He twisted and the lid of the chest snapped open.
Outside, he could hear the pounding of running robot feet.
He thrust back the cover of the chest and began lifting out the compartments in which the transmogs were racked.
“Hezekiah!” he shouted.
For Hezekiah was the one who knew where all the transmogs were; he could lay his hands upon any one of them that might be needed without having to hunt for it.
Behind Sheridan, the canvas rustled and Hezekiah came in with a rush. He brushed Sheridan to one side.
“Here, let me, sir,” he said.
“We’ll need some roboticists,” said Sheridan. “Those boys must be smashed up fairly bad.”
“Here they are. You better handle them, sir. You do it better than any one of us.”
Sheridan took the three transmogs and dropped them in the pocket of his jacket.
“I’m sorry there are no more, sir,” Hezekiah said. “That is all we have.”
“These will have to do,” said Sheridan. “How about the radio shack? Was anyone in there?”
“I understand that it was quite empty. Silas had just stepped out of it. He was very lucky, sir.”
“Yes, indeed,” agreed Sheridan.
He ducked out of the tent and ran toward the mound of broken crates and boxes. Robots were swarming over it, digging frantically. As he ran, he saw them stoop and lift free a mass of tangled metal. They hauled it from the pile and carried it out and laid it on the ground and stood there looking at it.
Sheridan came up to the group that stood around the mass of metal.
“Abe,” he panted, “did you get out both of them?”
Abraham turned around. “Not yet, Steve. Max is still in there.”
Sheridan pushed his way through the crowd and dropped on his knees beside the mangled robot. The midsection, he saw, was so deeply dented that the front almost touched the back. The legs were limp and the arms were canted and locked at a crazy angle. The head was twisted and the crystal eyes were vacant.
“Lem,” he whispered. “Lemuel, can you hear me?”
“No, he can’t,” said Abraham. “He’s really busted up.”
“I have roboticists in my pocket.” Sheridan got to his feet. “Three of them. Who wants a go at it? It’ll have to be fast work.”
“Count me in,” Abraham said, “and Ebenezer there and …”
“Me, too,” volunteered Joshua.
“We’ll need tools,” said Abraham. “We can’t do a thing unless we have some tools.”
“Here are the tools,” Hezekiah called out, coming on the trot. “I knew you would need them.”
“And light,” said Joshua. “It’s getting pretty dark, and from the looks of it, we’ll be tinkering with his brain.”
“We’ll have to get him up someplace,” declared Abraham, “so we can work on him. We can’t with him lying on the ground.”
“You can use the conference table,” Sheridan suggested.
“Hey, some of you guys,” yelled Abraham, “get Lem over there on the conference table.”
“We’re digging here for Max,” Gideon yelled back. “Do it yourself.”
“We can’t,” bawled Abraham. “Steve is fixing to get our transmogs changed …”
“Sit down,” ordered Sheridan. “I can’t reach you standing up. And has someone got a light?”
“I have one, sir,” said Hezekiah, at his elbow. He held out a flash.
“Turn it on those guys so I can get the transmogs in.”
Three robots came stamping over and picked up the damaged Lemuel. They lugged him off toward the conference table.
In the light of the flash, Sheridan got out his keys, shuffled swiftly through them and found the one he wanted.
“Hold that light steady. I can’t do this in the dark.”
“Once you did,” said Ebenezer. “Don’t you remember, Steve? Out on Galanova. Except you couldn’t see the labels and you got a missionary one into Ulysses when you thought you had a woodsman and he started preaching. Boy, was that a night!”
“Shut up,” said Sheridan, “and hold still. How do you expect me to get these into you if you keep wiggling?”
He opened the almost invisible plate in the back of Ebenezer’s skull and slid it quickly down, reached inside and found the spacehand transmog. With a quick twist, he jerked it out and dropped it in his pocket, then popped in the roboticist transmog, clicked it into place and drove it hom
Swiftly he moved along. He had switched the transmogs in the other two almost as soon as Ebenezer had regained his feet and picked up the kit of tools.
“Come on, men,” said Ebenezer. “We have work to do on Lem.”
The three went striding off.
Sheridan looked around. Hezekiah and his light had disappeared, galloping off somewhere, more than likely, to see to something else.
The robots still were digging into the heap of merchandise. He ran around the pile to help them. He began pulling stuff from the pile and throwing it aside.
Beside him, Gideon asked: “What did you run into, Steve?”
“Your face is bloody.”
Sheridan put up his hand. His face was wet and sticky. “A piece of gravel must have hit me.”
“Better have Hezekiah fix it.”
“After Max is out,” said Sheridan, going back to work.
They found Maximilian fifteen minutes later, at the bottom of the heap. His body was a total wreck, but he still could talk.
“It sure took you guys long enough,” he said.
“Ah, dry up,” Reuben said. “I think you engineered this so you could get a new body.”
They hauled him out and skidded him along the ground. Bits of broken arms and legs kept dropping off him. They plunked him on the ground and ran toward the radio shack.
Maximilian squalled after them: “Hey, come back! You can’t just dump me here!”
Sheridan squatted down beside him. “Take it easy, Max. The floater hit the radio shack and there’s trouble over there.”
“Lemuel? How is Lemuel?”
“Not too good. The boys are working on him.”
“I don’t know what happened, Steve. We were going all right and all at once the floater bucked us off.”
“Two of the motors failed,” said Sheridan. “Just why, we’ll probably never know, now that the floater’s smashed. You sure you feel all right?”
Other author's books:
- The Shipshape Miracle: And Other StoriesOur Children's ChildrenOver the River and Through the WoodsNew Folks' Home: And Other StoriesOut of Their MindsMastodoniaThe Fellowship of the TalismanProject Mastodon
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